Cayman Blake - West Warsaw, Kosciusko County

Cayman Blake (age 12) remembers his grandfather, Addison “Jeff” Warrix, as nice and helpful. He can vividly recall working with Jeff in the garage on vehicles and remembers him as someone who could fix anything. Jeff, who worked in the RV industry for many years, passed away from advanced cancer that had spread to his brain when Cayman was just 7 years old. His funeral was the day after Christmas.

“We really need to raise awareness about smoking so that people can make better choices.”

Cayman’s mother, Heidi, soon joined the Kosciusko County Tobacco Free Coalition as a coordinator. He immediately took to his mom’s new vocation and started attending local cigarette butt clean-ups and making presentations. He recently received the Special Recognition Award at the Warsaw Community Schools D.A.R.E. graduation, where he got a D.A.R.E. lion and book bag for his efforts.

“I have an idea for a vaping product that uses compressed air and could help people stop vaping.”

His passion has taken him to the Statehouse to testify to Indiana lawmakers about the need to both increase the minimum age of purchase for tobacco to 21 and raise the state’s cigarette tax. A private conversation he and Heidi had with a key lawmaker brought new insight.

“They need to stop caring about getting re-elected and start caring more about the community.”

The cigarette tax increase makes sense to Cayman. He noted that if the price of a pack of cigarettes in Indiana (which averages around $5.50) was raised by $2.00 per pack, a smoker would only be able to buy two packs, instead of three, for $15. He encourages other youth to get involved, both to pass the law and for other reasons. “They should start going to events that their tobacco-free coalition holds. You can get connections and get friends.”

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